Rural Stakeholders Call to Save Net Neutrality

  Photo credit: Joseph Gruber, CC BY ND NC
Photo credit: Joseph Gruber, CC BY ND NC

Today, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) joined community leaders from North Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia on a call to support net neutrality and highlight the economic growth and job creation potential for rural America through a free and open internet.

Senator Markey now has 50 supporters for his Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution of disapproval that would reverse the FCC’s repeal of the Open Internet Order.

The full text of the press release from Senator Markey’s office is available here.

Here are the full comments of National Rural Assembly Coordinator Whitney Kimball Coe on this important topic:

“It is no longer fair or reasonable to suggest that it is too cost prohibitive to connect rural America to quality, affordable broadband.

Broadband is the essential utility of the 21st century—it is the means through which people and communities engage with the world, through the exchange of goods, services, and ideas. 

It is the place where culture and democracy meet, inform, and shape our society. And it is the means through which our children and families achieve quality education, healthcare, and economic opportunity. 

While there is no guarantee that communities that are connected will succeed, it is certain that those not connected will fail. 

Rural Americans are currently traveling in the slow lane, under-connected or completely disconnected, and it is hurting our chances for success—and by extension it is robbing the nation of potential leaders, content creators, problem solvers, entrepreneurs, and the next generation of achievers who require broadband to reach their full potential. 

We’ve been at this crossroads before. 

In the 1930s and 40s it became clear that electrification and telephone service were non-negotiables, and we made a commitment to light up and connect farms, prairies, and hollers, because (thumb) we understood we couldn’t leave whole populations in the dark and (index finger) we recognized our nation was stronger when all are able to contribute, participate, and achieve a good quality of life.

We are faced with similar questions today about whether we move forward together or as a fractured and divided country. The 2015 FCC order classifying broadband as a Title II utility was a resolute answer to that question. It shored up the right to connectivity while at the same time it ensured a neutral playing field for all people in all the places. 

This CRA upholds the resolve of the 2015 order. The only way to guarantee that consumers are protected and rural communities get a fair shake is with rules of the road that protect net neutrality and ensure connectivity. 

We sell ourselves short if we aim for anything less than providing universal access to high speed, affordable broadband. To set the bar lower keeps rural America on the wrong side of the digital divide, and it keeps us in the slow lane.”

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